New comer Vera’s Finally at his best at Guyana Cup

first_img– Harmon pledges Government full support for the sport HORSE racing always prepares for the perfect blend of glitz and competition, and during yesterday’s 11th edition of the annual Guyana Cup, it was definitely one of the most glamorous moments in horse racing locally.The event provided that traditional hotspot for a pulsating afternoon of togetherness, but for the races themselves, the turfites didn’t left the Rising Sun Turf Club disappointed, with nine thoroughbred races taking centre stage.However, it was the feature D ‘1’ and Lower event (Race 7) which highlighted the magnificence of the country’s top racehorses.Watched by a capacity crowd, included Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, a star-studded field with a full gate of 11 horses broke even, but it was new comer, Vera’s Finally, duly confirmed his status as the country’s top sprinter in winning by ¾ length.Apprentice and champion jockey, Colin Ross, definitely enjoyed one of his best days in the saddle as he held off a late charge to win comfortably.Trained by Fazil Habibulla for popular owner and champion stable, Jumbo Jet Racing Stables, the newcomer was quite out of the running, at least for the first 1200 metres, but as the animal approached the final turn in the 1600 metres, Ross took full command by passing early race leader, Just Call Me Boss.It was quite easy from there on, as Ross piloted his charge for a thrilling victory ahead of Just Call Me Boss, It’s My Choice, Golden Blue Echo and Settling Star, respectively.The Jumbo Jet Racing Stables took the top prize of $2 million and the Banks DIH champion’s trophy.Meanwhile, Harmon pledged the government’s full support for horse racing, adding that events of such nature definitely adds to the government mission of social cohesion.Results for the other races are as follows:Race 1: 12 and Lower: Miss Olympic, Party Time, Liquid Lion and Red Jet.Race 2: L and Lower: Supreme Cat, Irish Boy, Angel Eye, Little Star and Not This Time.Race 3: E2 and Lower: Release the Beast, Red Rockets and Strom Bird.Race 4: H2 and Lower: Quite Dance, Got To Go, Isn’t She Charming.Race 5: Three-year-old Guyana Bred: Seven Dust, Fresh Dancer, Miss Olympic, King Stanley and Born To Dance.Race 6: Two-year-old Guyana Bred: The Final Line, Release The Heat, Touch Gold and Princess Showan.Race 8: G2 and Lower: Keep On Swinging, Mid Night Blues, Red Rocket and Isn’t She Charming.Race 9: K and Lower: Slim Shady, Ready To Romance, Red Region, De Rocket and Confusion.last_img read more

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Staats misses Orange Alumni Classic due to fall ineligibility

first_img Published on October 4, 2014 at 6:08 pm Contact Sam: sblum@syr.edu | @SamBlum3 Syracuse attack Randy Staats missed Saturday’s Orange Alumni Lacrosse Classic in the Carrier Dome because he is not eligible to compete in the fall, SU head coach John Desko said.He would not disclose the reason for his ineligibility, but Desko said that he “feels fine” that Staats will be able to compete during the lacrosse season in the spring.Desko said that Staats, a senior, is allowed to practice with the team currently, per NCAA rules, but could not participate in the game on Saturday.Staats was third on the team in goals last season with 33 and second in assists with 23, despite starting only nine games.He played his first two years at Onondaga Community College and has one season of eligibility remaining at Syracuse.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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Men’s golf looking to build on past experiences in 2010

first_imgThe USC men’s golf team has never won a national championship. According to fifth year coach Chris Zambri, it is time for that to change.“Our goal this year is to win the [NCAA] Tournament,” Zambri said. “We want to be the best.”Strong words from Zambri, but not unrealistic. Last year the Trojans rode a wave of youth to a 15th place finish at the NCAA Tournament in Chattanooga, Tenn. It was their fourth straight appearance under Zambri. Starting three freshmen in their five man rotation, the Trojans consistently faced more experienced, veteran teams as they fought to navigate the second most difficult schedule in the nation.“We try to play in the toughest events,” Zambri said. “I sometimes wonder if we should, but there’s a lot to be said for playing the toughest courses and best players.”That experience will hopefully go a long way toward eliminating the inconsistency that plagued the Trojans last year as they struggled to play well throughout the course of the season.Indeed, last year they never won a tournament, although they did succeed in racking up a string of top-10 finishes against loaded fields, their best finish a second place showing at the NCAA West Regional. That is something Zambri wants to rectify.“We want to start off quickly and win tournaments. I think we can do that,” Zambri said. “We have a very good team, but we have to prove it.”All-American T.J. Vogel is now in his second year with the team, as are standouts Martin Trainer and Sam Smith. They will be joined by junior Steve Lim, who was one of the few points of consistency last year for the Trojans, as he recorded four top-20 finishes in nine outings.“I expect Steve to be a number one player for us,” Zambri said. “I’m really proud of his summer, and I think he could be an All-American.”Lim and company will be joined by a pair of true freshman standouts in Jeffrey Kang and Ramsey Sahyoun, two of the top rated high school golfers in the nation.Kang, who hails from Fullerton, Calif., received a spot on the 2009 Rolex All-American team and was the No.1-ranked high school golfer in the country last year, according to Golfweek magazine. Sahyoun, from Van Nuys, Calif., won the 2009 36-hole U.S. Junior Amateur Championship qualifying tournament.Zambri said he expects each to step in and compete for playing time, as the team must replace a former two-time All-American in Matt Giles, who left the team after the end of his junior season to play professionally.The Trojans look to have enough firepower to battle through a loaded Pac-10 conference in 2010, which features five of the top 10 teams included in the NCAA Men’s Golf Poll. Stanford and defending Pac-10 champions Washington pace the conference at number two and three, respectively, while USC begins the year just outside the top 10 at No. 11.Thus, in order to achieve their goals, the Trojans will have to do the one thing they did not last year: win. And with a fresh infusion of youth in Kang and Sahyoun and the continued development of last year’s freshman class, this might not be out of reach.last_img read more

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Syracuse loses in straight-sets to No. 3 Pitt after missed set point

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 11, 2019 at 11:53 pm Contact Alex: athamer@syr.edu | @alexhamer8 Heading into Friday’s match, Syracuse thought it had a chance. Despite coming off consecutive “frustrating” losses, the Orange had their best week of practice this season, assistant coach Derryk Williams said. The spirit and consistency Williams said SU showed in practice carried over into the first set against No. 3 Pittsburgh. Bolstered by the return of senior libero Aliah Bowllan, who had a game-high 16 digs, a fired-up SU squad flew around the court, constantly diving and digging balls out to keep rallies alive, often leading to Pitt attacking errors.Late in the first set, Syracuse found itself with a set point, up 24-23 thanks to a signature Marina Markova kill. She leaked out from the middle to the right side before spiking an Elena Karakasi pass over the outstretched arms of several Pitt players. On the next play, Karakasi had an opportunity to replicate the previous play, as Markova made an identical run, anticipating a Karakasi pass. Instead, Karakasi chose to pass left to Ella Saada, whose kill attempt was blocked, as Pitt went on to to take that point along with the next two, winning the set 26-24. “I wouldn’t consider it a missed opportunity, I would more consider it a learning point for us,” Bowllan said of losing the set point. “That’s one of the best sets we’ve played, probably this entire season, so I don’t think we can complain at all.” After escaping with the first set, Pittsburgh (16-1, 5-0 Atlantic Coast) never looked back, easily securing the next two sets as they defeated Syracuse (4-8, 1-4). The Panthers came in riding a four-game winning streak. Conversely, the loss marked the third straight at home for SU, and now with four conference losses, SU now has as many as last season. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn the first set, the Orange didn’t out-hit Pitt, but recorded 16 kills despite posting a .140 hitting percentage. Yet in the next two sets combined, SU had just 18 kills and committed 17 attacking errors. Even during warm-ups, the gap in consistency between Pitt and Syracuse was evident, Williams said. “We want to figure out how we can get that first set through the entirety of our season, get two sets out of it, three sets, four sets,” Williams said. “They (Pitt) could probably do that for 10 sets straight.”In the second set, the strong energy and team defense SU had displayed in the first largely evaporated outside of Bowllan, who continued to lay out for every ball in her vicinity. Pitt seemed to take note of Bowllan’s play, and began directing its attacks away from the senior. Instead, the Panthers targeted Yuliia Yastrub and SU’s inexperienced middles, freshmen Abby Casiano and Markova. Markova, typically an outside hitter, was playing in the middle for only the second time in her SU career. On one play early on, Yastrub was caught flat-footed, and a Pitt kill ricocheted off her out-of-bounds. SU head coach Leonid Yelin promptly took her out on the next play, giving her a quick pep-talk before Yastrub joined her teammates on the bench. Yelin said he noticed Yastrub was being uncharacteristically hesitant, and wanted to bolster her confidence. “I know how she’s performing when she doesn’t have anything in the back of her mind, when she’s playing and not worrying about making mistakes,” Yelin said. “When she’s just going and focusing on how to win, don’t worry about nothing for a second because it will be a mistake.” After sitting out the remainder of the set, Yastrub returned for the third, but to little avail. Polina Shemanova, who paced the Orange with 15 kills and three aces, was emblematic of SU’s inconsistency after a strong first set. In that first set, Shemanova had six kills, with her thunderous cross-court kills stinging the hands of Pitt defenders, who were unable to parry Shemanova’s attacks back into play. By the third set, the Panthers adjusted, getting their front row into positions that thwarted Shemanova and SU’s attacks. At one point in the third set, Saada had three straight attacking errors, with Pitt blockers getting their hands up quickly, forcing Saada to fire her attacks way out of bounds down SU’s left side. Later in the set, Pitt’s front row showed up again, this time with a spike that came down so fast at Karakasi she could only react by parrying the ball off Markova’s face, allowing Pitt to take the point and eventually, the set 25-17. While the first set proved SU could hang with one of the best teams in the country, the next two revealed the gap the Orange need to close in order to secure a second consecutive NCAA tournament berth.“There’s a reason why they (Pitt) are No. 3 now, they can consistently play on this level, and I hope we are in the process to start moving in this direction,” Yelin said. “We have to just keep going and be patient so it’s not just one (good) set, but two and hopefully three.” Commentslast_img read more

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Syracuse blasts Division III SUNY Morrisville, 11-0, in tune-up game

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ As starting lineups were announced during Tuesday afternoon’s Syracuse men’s soccer game, players weren’t standing where they usually do. Instead of traditionally lining up in the midfield circle, often with kids from local youth teams at their sides, the Orange and Mustangs stood under the overhangs of their benches. There was no national anthem, the game started five minutes ahead of schedule and there were less than a dozen fans in attendance. Nothing was usual about the Orange’s Tuesday match against SUNY Morrisville.As heavy rainfall soaked SU Soccer Stadium turning grass into mud, Syracuse (6-4-4, 1-3-2 Atlantic Coast) poured in 11 goals in an 11-0 win over Division III SUNY Morrisville (2-11-2, 1-6-1 NEAC). After five goals in the first half and six more in the second, Syracuse was barely celebrating scores by game’s end. Even when Ryan Raposo and Massimo Ferrin netted hat tricks, SU took the ball back to the center circle to restart play as its goal song, “Hot” by Young Thug, played on repeat the entire afternoon. “It’s nice to play against a live opponent,” Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre said. “We got out of it exactly what we were looking for. We’re very appreciative for them coming down.”A game that originally wasn’t on the schedule, Syracuse tuned itself up ahead of the final home stretch of the season that features two ACC opponents: North Carolina State and Boston College. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen Syracuse’s game against Albany on Oct. 1 was canceled due to lightning, the Orange had a hole in their schedule, room for one more regular-season game of their 16 total. They could have opted to not fill the spot, instead hosting a practice on Tuesday that would have been an eight-on-eight or nine-on-nine scrimmage, McIntyre said. “It’s a difficult time to lose a game,” McIntyre said. “Everyone is playing games and has got conference games, and it was nice to have a local team with ties to the region.”McIntyre wanted to get the Orange a game, but couldn’t find another Division I school with an opening. So he called Morrisville, a Division III school about 30 miles from the SU campus. It took less than five minutes, at 3:59 p.m., one minute before the game was scheduled to begin, for Luther Archimede to beat Morrisville keeper Tyler Card.Less than four days after Syracuse’s defense was torn open in a 7-4 loss to ACC powerhouse Clemson, the Orange were able to showcase their attacking talent, albeit against a Division III team that had lost its last five games before Tuesday.“The way you respect your opponent is to give them your best shot, and we did that,” McIntyre said. “It’s a lot better to do work with a soccer ball. From a training perspective, it was very good today, it’s making sure you’re respecting your opponent.”The Orange stifled Morrsiville’s non-existent attack, holding the Mustangs to just one shot, a long-range prayer from 30 yards that sailed well over the head of Orange backup goalkeeper Jake Leahy. Leahy made his third start of the season, but first since Christian Miesch won the starting goalkeeper job back in September.The Mustangs completed just seven passes inside the Orange’s half on Tuesday. Syracuse’s superior talent passed around, through and over the Mustangs repeatedly. Simon Triantafillou came sliding in for a back-post finish, missed just wide and kept sliding about five more yards on the soaked grass. Both areas in front of each goal turned from its usual green to brown mud. “The weather certainly made it interesting,” McIntyre said. “But still a good afternoon.”The Orange’s dominant lead provided opportunities for two SU players to get their first game action of the season. Both Mickey Watson, a transfer from Loyola, and Nikolas Steiner, a redshirt sophomore from Baltimore, saw their first game action of the season.Steiner played as a right wing-back and tallied his first career point with an assist on the Orange’s fifth goal five minutes before halftime. The Mustangs offered little resistance once Raposo ran in behind the defense and finished with a ground shot to the far-post. “We could have taken today off or practiced, but to get out on the pitch and get an actual game in,” Watson said. “I think especially coming off the Clemson game, we needed this one.”SU poured in shot-after-shot, 32 in total, as SU’s back three spent the entire afternoon trotting around inside Morrisville’s half. Occasionally they’d play a few passes to one another, but rarely were they challenged.  Once the Orange got their second, the third, fourth and fifth scores came in quick succession. Ferrin converted a penalty after he was taken down in the box, Archimede cleaned up a penalty area scrum with a far post tap-in and Severin Soerlie nabbed his second goal just before halftime.The second half was merely a formality, as the minutes ticked down off the soaked scoreboard, occasionally adding one tally for the Orange. Each player sauntered back into the locker room, as if a practice had just ended. Typically, the Orange huddle up post-match on the field for a team talk. But Tuesday wasn’t a typical game.  Comments Published on October 22, 2019 at 7:30 pm Contact Anthony: amdabbun@syr.edulast_img read more

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Colin Kaepernick: LeBron James tweets in support of Kaepernick before his open workout

first_img WE RECOMMEND Best of luck to @Kaepernick7 in his workout today! Pulling for you over here Young🤴🏾!!! Regardless the outcome you’re SPECIAL and I thank you for being TRUE! 🙏🏾✊🏾👑— LeBron James (@KingJames) November 16, 2019 Also Read | NBA: LeBron James Approves Carmelo Anthony’s Move, Posts 7 Instagram Stories For MeloThis is not the first time the Lakers player has come forward in support of former NFL player. Earlier this year, talking to press, LeBron James made a firm stance that he stands with the message of the former 49ers QB.Also Read | LeBron James, Tom Brady Exchange Hilarious Retirement Tweets With Each Other “I stand with Kap. I kneel with Kap. I feel like what he was talking about nobody wanted to listen to. Nobody wanted to really understand where he was coming from.” pic.twitter.com/TUjpgK8JHj— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) February 16, 2019 SUBSCRIBE TO US Last Updated: 18th November, 2019 11:02 IST Colin Kaepernick: LeBron James Tweets In Support Of Kaepernick Before His Open Workout LeBron James, who plays in NBA team Los Angeles Lakers is one of the many professionals who has been supporting quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He posted a tweet. 9 months ago LeBron James terrorises Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica with vicious dunk: Watch video 9 months ago Colin Kaepernick gets help from Hip-Hop mogul Jay-Z in NFL star’s recent workout: Report First Published: 18th November, 2019 11:02 IST COMMENT FOLLOW US I’m just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday. I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday.— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) November 13, 2019center_img Also Read | NFL: Colin Kaepernick To Make His Long-awaited Return To The NFL?LeBron James wished Kaepernick luck with a tweet for his publicised workout on November 16, 2019. He termed Kaepernick as special. Also, LeBron James thanked him for being real and true.Also Read | LeBron James Terrorises Kings Forward Nemanja Bjelica With Vicious Dunk: Watch Video 9 months ago NBA: Will Andre Iguodala be used by the West to stop LeBron James? NBA executives think so Akhil Nambiar Written By LeBron James, who plays for Los Angeles Lakers, is one of the many professionals who has been supporting quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The 32-year-old Kaepernick took the field for a transparent workout, basically a highly publicised workout in front of NFL brass in Atlanta. Also Read | NBA: Boston Celtics Edge Past Golden State Warriors To Bag 10th Straight WinHistory of the protestKaepernick began the protests against police violence and systemic racism at the start of 2016 by sitting and then kneeling during the national anthem. Kaepernick’s protest led to a sparkling movement in the NFL as multiple players following the protest and the league created a policy regarding this. 9 months ago NBA: LeBron James approves Carmelo Anthony’s move, posts 7 Instagram stories for Melo LIVE TV 9 months ago NFL: Colin Kaepernick to make his long-awaited return to the NFL? WATCH US LIVElast_img read more

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Tyson Fury Says Anthony Joshua is ‘Finished’

first_imgTyson Fury Tyson Fury believes former world champion Anthony Joshua is “finished” after his shock defeat by Andy Ruiz Jr.Joshua, 29, gave up his IBF, WBA and WBO titles in a seventh-round stoppage loss to Ruiz in New York on June 1.Speaking before Saturday’s bout with Tom Schwarz – which will be broadcast by BBC Radio 5 Live – Fury said Joshua did not want to be in the ring. “When a man doesn’t want to be there once, he will always do it and it’s hard to come back from,” said Fury.“It’s been done many different times by many different fighters. He did it that night and I don’t think he will come back from it. Finished. Ask any top trainer who has been around the sport a lifetime. When he got to the ring I saw he didn’t want to be there.”Fury’s Las Vegas contest with Schwarz will air on 5 Live in the early hours of Sunday morning in the UK.The bout comes two weeks after Ruiz ripped up the heavyweight division’s plot lines by inflicting a first career defeat on Joshua, who had previously made Fury an offer to fight.“Everybody thought that man could beat me,” Fury added. “In what world could he ever beat me? What were people seeing? I don’t know what people were looking at as I don’t know in what world he could have beaten me.”Fury this week said he respects Joshua and regards him as “a winner in life” for how he has achieved sporting success after brushes with the law in his youth.But Joshua’s loss has halted talk of any immediate fight with Fury or WBC champion Deontay Wilder as the 2012 Olympic champion is now intent on fulfilling a rematch with Ruiz.Fury, who battled mental health and drug issues before returning to the sport after a 31-month spell of inactivity in June of 2018, believes Joshua will lose the repeat fixture.In referencing Ruiz’s much publicised fleshy physique and his own win over Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, Fury told 5 Live Boxing’s Mike Costello and Steve Bunce that such results prove “body types mean nothing in boxing.”“Physically Joshua could out-train everyone,” added Fury, 30. “He would break every heart monitor, has probably worn out every treadmill in the gym, smashes the bag, it’s all very unimportant.“Boxing isn’t rocket science and today people are trying to make it a scientist thing. If you can fight you can fight if you can’t you can forget about it. You can eat every protein bar in the world, when you get banged on the chin and panic, it don’t really help you much.“People who don’t understand boxing look at a fat man and think he can’t fight. The best feeling I got from it was the two best conditioned fighters in the last 20 years have been Klitschko and Joshua and they both got done by two fat men.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

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Worldpay expects ‘60% Cheltenham Festival wagering increase’ as punters look for 2016 rerun of results

first_img StumbleUpon Submit Related Articles Leading international digital payment supplier, Worldpay is predicting that online bookmakers will experience up to a 60% increase in turnover this week as British punters hope for a re-run of last years’ record-breaking Cheltenham Festival.A string of winning favourites at the 2016 Festival saw UK betting operators’ suffer losses of more than £60m, the worst in living memory.  But figures from Worldpay show that bookies have an excellent opportunity of recouping their losses if last year’s betting patterns are repeated.Worldpay date shows that 2016’s Cheltenham Festival saw 39% more online betting transactions compared to the week prior to the festival.The Gold Cup proved to be the most popular day for betting, seeing 57% more transactions than the previous week and an astonishing 66% more bets than the fortnight prior. The figures help to explain the large-scale losses suffered by the industry at last year’s event, and bookmakers will hope to avoid a similar situation in 2017.James McGurn, VP Growth – Digital Content & Gaming, at Worldpay commented ahead of Cheltenham 2017: “The Cheltenham Festival is the jewel in the crown of National Hunt racing, but bookies will be hoping for a much more successful year in 2017 following last year’s losses.“The good news for the industry is that last year online gambling firms saw a 39% rise in turnover during the week of the Festival compared with the previous fortnight, and if betting patterns this year are similar they can look forward to average bet values increasing by 19% as punters go large on the big races. The Gold Cup will prove to be the moment of truth: last year, bookies turned over a whopping 62% more versus the same day two weeks prior. It just depends, of course, on the right nags romping home.“In 2015-16 online gambling operators generated £4.5 billion in gross gambling yield*, powered to a large extent by mobile technology which has made it easier than ever for casual gamblers to have a flutter on the gee-gees – or any other sport, for that matter. In a couple of weeks we’ll see whether this year’s Cheltenham Festival was a winner for the gambling industry; but whatever happens we can be sure that there will be no shortage of bets from both casual and committed punters.” 6 of the Best – ICS’ Dean Rayson May 16, 2019 Lee Drabwell, PBS: Drawing in a customer base frustrated by the online experience April 10, 2019 Share College OTT FloSports secures Gold Cup coverage with HBA Media February 26, 2020 Sharelast_img read more

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Fifa gives Women’s League head start

first_imgGhana’s preparation towards the start of the first national Women’s League has received a major equipment boost from world soccer body, Fifa.Fifa has presented technical equipment worth thousands of dollars to support the organisation of the National Women’s League (NWL) ahead of the kick off on Sunday.All 12 participating clubs in the inaugural league have benefited from Fifa donation which is made up of footballs, training kits, shin guards, goalkeepers gloves, boots and bibs.Every club received a set of each of the items for 18 players with 12 footballs.The donation from football’s governing body further cements its commitment to the development of women’s football, said Roman Hangadja, a Fifa instructor.Executive committee member of the GFA and Chairperson of the WLB, Leanier Addy, expressed their appreciation for the ‘monumental’ support. “The GFA spent close to GHC30,000 to clear these goods from the port and therefore can not give the clubs cash as they had expected, but these items are equally appreciated.“This is a great surprise from FIFA and we are very grateful because it would go a long way to help the teams who will be playing in the league. It will cut down on their cost as they can now channel the money they would have used to acquire these items to another important use,” Ms Addy said.Twelve clubs grouped into two sectors of six each will kick off the league this weekend.last_img read more

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Dodgers need a healthy Rich Hill

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error LOS ANGELES >> The gestation period for a top-tier starting pitcher is not always the same.In very rare cases, they arrive fully-formed – think Dwight Gooden. In others, the labor pains pass quickly – Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez. Some take longer – Randy Johnson, Jake Arrietta.Few take as long as Rich Hill has.“What’s interesting about him is if you took him sort of as he was coming up through the minors and then projected this out – it wouldn’t have surprised me in 2004 when he was in Double-A and Triple-A if he would be doing this at this age,” Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi said of the 36-year-old Hill. “If I look back and say ‘If this guy was healthy for the last 10 years, who knows what the results would have been?’ But you have injuries and you can’t control that. So we are where we are right now and I just keep trying to stay in the moment, stay in what you need to do today.”Hill’s late-career blossoming is largely the result of finally learning what he needs to do – and being healthy enough to do it consistently.He came up with the Cubs as a young starting pitcher with a “plus” curveball that he tried to incorporate into a conventional four-pitch mix. A baseball lifer, Gary Hughes was in the Cubs’ front office during Hill’s rise to the majors and early years there.“Things were there. There were flashes. He just wasn’t able to do it consistently,” recalled Hughes, now scouting for the Boston Red Sox. “He’s got a long-traveled road to get to where he is. But he figured it out.”The road took a turn in 2009 when shoulder pain led to labrum surgery. Hill dropped his arm slot to a sidearm delivery in order to compensate for the pain and he moved to the bullpen where he thought he might spend the rest of his career as a lefty specialist.“As soon as I went to the bullpen, when I started doing it, it felt natural throwing from down there and I was good at it,” Hill said. “So it was, ‘Maybe this is what I’m going to do.’”It wasn’t what he wanted to do. Hill said he always wanted to get back to being a starting pitcher even as he bounced from Baltimore to Boston to Cleveland to the Angels (where he faced four batters, walked three, gave up a hit to the other and was released after two appearances in 2014) to the Yankees and to the Washington Nationals, returning from Tommy John surgery along the way.Hill credits two people – both in the Red Sox organization – for helping him rediscover himself. The first was former Red Sox athletic trainer Mike Reinold who Hill says helped him rebuild his shoulder, making him strong enough to throw over the top again. But it wasn’t until last year when Hill requested his release from the Nationals’ Triple-A team and signed with the Long Island Ducks that he went back to that delivery. It worked well enough for him to make two starts for the Ducks, allowing no runs and only two hits while striking out 21 in 11 innings for the independent team.That earned him a contract for a second go-round with the Red Sox. This time, he met up with Brian Bannister. The former big-leaguer had become the Red Sox director of pitching analysis and development. Hill credits Bannister for opening his eyes to the secrets to be found in analytics and a new approach to pitching.Hitters had never been able to handle Hill’s curveball. Hill knew this and the analytics reinforced it. So why not throw it more often, Bannister asked?“He opened my eyes to pitching to what you do best,” Hill said. “He just kind of reinforced it that the data shows it – the more breaking balls you throw the more effective everything is going to be.“Now we start talking about perceptual velocity on my fastball, changing shape off the breaking ball, changing speed of the breaking ball, changing speed of the fastball, accelerating and decelerating through the zone. How do you pitch with that? For me, it all made sense. That’s how I had been pitching before but I had been going along the path of trying to do it conventionally instead of going, ‘No. This is what I do best. I know what I do best. Let me be creative.’”Since returning as a starter with the Red Sox and A’s over the past two seasons, Hill has thrown his curveball well over 40 percent of the time. His strikeout rate has jumped along with his soft-contact percentage and the number of line drives he allows has dropped. His swing-and-miss rate – always strong – is among the best in baseball.For a year and a half in his mid-30s, Hill has been one of the best starting pitchers in the majors. But a year and a half – shortened even further by a groin injury and his current blister issues – is not a large sample size.“It’s not. But it’s also not a year and a half where you wonder how he’s doing it,” Zaidi said. “You see the curveball. You see that hitters just cannot square it up. He gets a lot of swings and misses. Admittedly, it’s not a long track record of performance but the visual sort of matches the results.”Hill is old enough that his manager recalls facing him when he was winning 11 games for the Cubs in 2007 and Dave Roberts was winding down his playing career with the Giants. That Hill has found himself so deep in his career does not shock Roberts.“Justin Turner didn’t become a top player until deep into his career,” Roberts said, citing another player who has found his best days in his 30s. “It happens at different times for different players.”.center_img “The problem is everything in between.”Zaidi chuckles, knowing just how much “everything in between” encompasses – six teams in 10 seasons, shoulder surgery, Tommy John surgery, a successful life as a LOOGY, a not-so-successful life as a LOOGY, a brief incarnation as a Duck (of the independent Long Island Ducks), more starts in the minors than he has made in the majors and a personal tragedy.Hill has only recently emerged as “from a pure performance standpoint … as good as any starter out there,” as Zaidi puts it. Acquired by the Dodgers to be the “top-end starter” they lack with Kershaw injured and will need if they are to make a postseason run, Hill has been unable to pitch for them – or at all since the tip of his middle finger ripped open on July 17 – due to blister issues. That they have played so well over the past six weeks with precious few quality efforts from a starting pitcher allows them to be patient with Hill.Patience is a quality with which Hill is familiar.“I don’t think it’s a question of how I became so good so late (in his career),” Hill said. “I think it’s, finally you’re healthy and you’ve always been good. If that makes sense.last_img read more

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